The power of collaboration: promoting information literacy skills in a Primary Initial Teacher Education course - Sarah Purcell & Rachel Barrell
The Power of Collaboration
Promoting IL skills in a Primary ITE course
Academic Liaison Librarian
Course Leader, Primary ITE
A few facts and figures
Established in 1946: emergency teacher training college
Became University of Worcester in 2005
Only HE institution in Herefordshire and Worcestershire
Expansion: City Campus, The Hive library, the Arena
Nearly 10000 students
368 Primary UG ITE students
39 Primary ITE teaching staff
1 Institute of Education librarian
It began with…. a meeting
• Summer 2010
• External examiner feedback
“However many students are unclear about the Harvard system in particular
using inappropriate sources often cited from the internet and failing to follow
conventions for direct and indirect quotes in text.” Mills, 2009
• Student comments to staff
• Transition into HE
• Academic writing – referencing, sources,
Sarah – PG Certificate Teaching & Learning in HE
The research title and objectives
What is the impact of an information skills
teaching programme on first-year students’
confidence in and development of these skills?
• To evaluate what support was needed by new
students, in what preferred medium and to what
• To examine whether this level of input from the
librarian is sustainable, given their current role,
and propose ideas for managing this.
First year induction, then final year support with
Little awareness of sources beyond books
Unsure about referencing
Lack of timely support
A-Levels, Access to HE and everything in between
Inadvertent plagiarism, essay writing skills
Expectations and lack of confidence
Teaching programme: 2010-11
Semester 1: Session Content
Whole cohort introduction to the library service including websites for further
support and information. Introduction to action research project and ethics.
Content: Demonstration of accessing a journal article, selected by the course
leader and librarian. Tutors facilitated a seminar later that week in which students
were expected to have accessed and read the article, and be prepared to
discuss its content.
Directed study: academic study scenarios to consider for Week 5’s session.
Referencing One hour session with each of the five groups of app 28 students.
Content: discussion of set task from previous week. Teaching and activities
focused on Harvard referencing.
Directed study: Citing and referencing activity to be completed and submitted to
Week 6 Plagiarism One hour session with each of the five groups of app 28 students.
Content: feedback re week 5’s task. Defined plagiarism and focused on
strategies to avoid it, with some work on paraphrasing and academic writing.
Directed study: Further reading on academic writing.
Week 7 Searching for
One hour session with each of the five groups of app 28 students.
Content: Introduction and demonstrations of various resources and searching
techniques, included hands-on activities, all focused around an upcoming
professional studies assignment. PC Room.
Start of Semester 2 – follow-up input and a chance
Year 1 students - 69 completed
Teaching staff - 13 completed
Level of agreement with range of statements to
assess confidence (students) and role (staff)
Assignment moderation meeting – referencing ‘in
1. impact and timing
2. role of academic staff and librarian
3. collaboration and integration
4. online learning and support
5. gaps in the teaching
Impact and timing (1)
Overall – positive impact on student confidence
“The teaching has definitely made a big difference because I
didn’t have a clue about referencing before I came here and
in lectures the lecturers concentrate on the subject content
rather than how to actually write essays. The teaching
definitely made a difference to my learning…”
Teaching staff noted a positive difference in
student work BUT…
Moderation meeting: students were including
sources and referencing them, but not necessarily
integrating a range of different academic sources.
Impact and timing (2)
“I learnt more about referencing from the second teaching input in
February. I think this was because I had received feedback from
my assignments which allowed me to ask Sarah more specific
questions…I think this is a very difficult area to understand until
the first assignments have been written.”
“I thought the initial lessons with Sarah were informative, however
I would have benefitted more had they not been in the initial
weeks as there was so much information to take in…I think
sessions closer to starting our initial assignment would have been
more useful as it would have been fresher.”
Keywords: optionality, point of need, overload, ‘learning by doing’
Role of academic staff and librarian
My tutor (s) also provided information about referencing in their teaching:
18 agree/strongly agree, 40 disagree or strongly disagree.
My tutor(s) also provided information about plagiarism in their teaching:
11 agree/strongly agree, 37 disagree/strongly disagree
My tutor(s) also provided information about searching and accessing
information in their teaching: 32 agree/strongly agree, 20
Librarian: proactive, focused, supportive
“The focused sessions have meant
all students have had the same
input and the input has not been
watered down by other course
“a lot of the tutors assume we know how
Students are responsible for “[learning]
to use what is available”, and “refreshing
their skills so that they take responsibility
for their own academic achievements”
“Students need to have this input
and the academic librarian seems to
be a good person to do this.”
Collaboration and integration
“[Reminder] sessions for staff? Sometimes students report that
the feedback is not as consistent as they would like.”
“Please could you run a session for the…research methods staff
…so that we can support the students in their literature reviews.”
“Perhaps … more input from tutors as some have different
expectations to others.” [Student]
Keywords: consistency, promotion, transition, communication
Sustainability and knowledge-sharing?
“[With] the right encouragement and help from [librarians]”, teaching
staff might be better placed to “link those skills to purposeful
information-seeking” (Pacey 1995: p.98).
Online learning and support
Emails, emails, and more emails
Insight: common questions and assignment
Pebblepad, ‘Education Network’, Blackboard VLE
Exposure to online tools and lack of engagement
Keywords: quick, easy, familiarity
Gaps in the teaching
Research databases and journals
Navigating the ‘confusing’ library and IT systems
“I don’t know how to use [journals] in
assignments…Is it just a process of elimination and
searching for the right articles by hand?”
Keywords: effective, critical, evaluation, selection,
“[User] education consisted far too much of a training in how to jump
over hurdles which ought not to have been there in the first place”
(Pacey 1995: p.96).
Demystifying academic writing?
Academic writing: the “written synthesis” which
represents and connects sources and concepts in a
coherent and critical manner (Boscolo et al. 2007:
Essay writing requires content; it cannot be taught
generically (Lupton 2008).
Clear link between librarian role and academic role
Is a ‘study skills approach’ truly effective? (Barrie
2007; Haggis 2006; Lea & Street 1998)
New research cycles and progress
2011-12 and 2012-13:
Persevered with four-week programme – changed order of content
to reflect searching process, and removed/absorbed the scary
Increased input for years 2 and 3
External examiner feedback and student tracking-
No of 1st Class Degrees (10/11 9%, 11/12 13%, 12/13 16%)
August 2013: Woo!
The aims of the award are:
To support and encourage excellence in the application of
research in practice
To disseminate the results of practitioner research and
To help practitioners to improve the quality of their work
Time for an overhaul…
Input was still ‘added on’
Input was loaded into the first few weeks
Students and staff increasingly concerned with
Had not really addressed the staff support aspect
The tools improved: online support consolidated
into LibGuides (Sep 2013) and we acquired….
2013-14: Powerful collaboration?
Bitesize introductions to LibGuides, Summon etc –
within mandatory modules, across all years
Formative tasks within modules, and assignment-
related input – team teaching
Office hours and appointments
Case study for Implementing ANCIL (Wrathall 2012)
Students more proactive, requesting specific input
Working together to respond to common questions
and problems – Working in Partnership (WiP);
Primary Referencing Guide; marking grid
Librarian goes back to the books
Attended one of the Student Services academic
Pecorari, D. (2013) Teaching to avoid plagiarism:
how to promote good source use. Maidenhead,
Open University Press.
Turnaround: Foreground academic writing, and
integrate Harvard referencing mechanics
Sarah likes to share:
So what did we learn?
Add-on, front loaded, study skills-based sessions
don’t work for us (transferability)
Point of need, relevance of input and consistency
are crucial for ongoing development of students’
academic skills (‘information literacy’?)
Team teaching and collaborative research can lead
to happy accidents and strong working relationships
We can work with the resources we’ve got…if we
are willing to collaborate and share
Students are incredibly eager to tell you where you
can improve and do more…if you encourage this
collaboration from the start
Barrie, S.C. (2007) A conceptual framework for the teaching and learning of generic graduate
attributes. Studies in Higher Education. 32 (4), 439-458.
Boscolo, P., Arfé, B., & Quarisa, M. (2007) Improving the quality of students' academic writing:
an intervention study. Studies in Higher Education. 32 (4), 419 – 438.
Haggis, T. (2006) Pedagogies for diversity: retaining critical challenge amidst fears of ‘dumbing
down’. Studies in Higher Education. [Online] 31 (5), 521-535.
Lea, M.R. & Street, B.V. (1998) Student writing in higher education: an academic literacies
approach. Studies in Higher Education. [Online] 23 (2), 157-172.
Lupton, M. (2008) Evidence, argument and social responsibility: first-year students’
experiences of information literacy when researching an essay. Higher Education Research &
Development. 27 (4), 399-414.
Norton, L. (2009) Action research in teaching & learning: a practical guide to conducting
pedagogical research in universities. Abingdon, Routledge.
Pacey, P. (1995) Teaching user education, learning information skills; or, Towards the self-
explanatory library. The New Review of Academic Librarianship. 1, 95-103.
Pecorari, D. (2013) Teaching to avoid plagiarism: how to promote good source use.
Maidenhead, Open University Press.
Vezzosi, M. (2006) Information literacy and action research: an overview and some reflections.
New Library World. 107 (1226/1227), 286-301.
Wrathall, K. (2012) Strategies for implementing A New Curriculum for Information
Literacy. http://implementingancil.pbworks.com/w/file/55121848/Strategies for Implementing
ANCIL in Non-Cambridge HEIs v3.pdf